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God is enough as a Witness
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Repeating the same mistakes
A Criminal's Repentance at His Old Age

 

A Criminal's Repentance at His Old Age

 

Was published in Arabic in November, 12 , 2015

Translated by Ahmed Fathy

 

 

   We have received the following email message containing a story that proves that God allows some time for sinners to repent, but if they do not, He punishes them severely in this life, before the next. Here's the message, followed by our reply.

 

  (…you are an acute angle, Dr. Mansour; those who love you, love you a lot, and those who hate you, hate you so much. There is no happy medium or moderation in feelings toward you. You are just like the zero equation you mention a lot in your articles archive. I used to be among your worst haters. I heard you for the very first time, on air, while you have been speaking in a conference held by some opposition figures and attended by many journalists, politicians, and lawyers. This conference has been recorded audio visually by me, among a team working in the National Security Apparatus (NSA). I heard you attentively. You spoke then about the fact that your variety or form of Islam is not what we learnt and knew now, and that there is no theological state, as a notion, in Islam. You have elucidated your point so clearly that I knew, from my experience in my job at (NSA), that you are a most dangerous man, in comparison to other audience attending this conference. You oppose things without any political or venal ambitions. Your type is never to be negotiated with; you enlighten people and revolutionize them slowly but steadily, while our mission in (NSA) has been to hypnotize people with a religion that you say that it is not real Islam. I began to take personal, not a professional, interest in you. I reread your files in the department of religious activities in (NSA). I was filled with wonder; you hold staunchly to your views with no compromises whatsoever. This made me hate you even more. I am now a retired man who used to work at (NSA), if you have not guessed that so far. I used to dream about becoming a literary writer or a journalist. My parents forced me to enter the Police Academy. My literary leanings led me to live a schizophrenic existence; a merciless policeman at work, and an avid reader at home. I used to attend literary forums and enjoy cultural shows and programs in TV. I never allowed the two characters to mingle; my passion for arts never got on the way of my being a sadistic (NSA) employee. I was never a good performer in bed with my wife. I used to compensate for this by being a sadist in the rooms of torture in (NSA). I have attended some of your conferences in Ibn Khaldoun Center in Cairo to hear you secretively. I used to imagine you in one of my torture rooms, subject to my wrath and fury. I harbored a desire to take revenge from you. Your words and notions made me hate you boundlessly. In literary salons and forums, I used to wear the mask of an ardent lover of arts, in you conferences, I felt in a mission to spy on you. Your notions were for me at the time a threat to national security, to the regime, and its head. I remember that once you have tackled the wrong notion of reciting the Quranic verses as if they were songs or stanzas. Among the attendees were Dr. Saad Eddine Ibrahim and a former Kuwaiti Minister of Culture. You read from your memory The Quranic Chapter XX. Your voice sent shivers up my spine and I trembled. I left the place at once, feeling unbearable hatred towards you. I felt like torturing you, if I ever had the chance one day. I have attended, as part of my job at (NSA), some conferences of Ibn Khaldoun Center on teaching Egyptians their political and election rights. I felt happy that your tour around Egyptian governorates will embarrass Mubarak; this will give me the chance to arrest you once day. I heard that you were wanted. When they were about to arrest you, you managed to flee to the USA. Later on, I have retired at the age of 60, and suddenly, I have lost all my authority and respect due to me by people. I have decided to hunt for a job in a private company, using mediators from my connections and people I used to know, but I have been amazed to perceive the huge amount of complaints against me by enemies, rivals, colleagues, supervisors, among others, as well as complaints from former detainees. I confined myself to my home. I have now no job, no friends, no power, no authority, no wife, no children, no relatives, and my phone never rang. No one has visited me until now. All people and neighbors avoid me as if I were a leper. I never leave home now; I never frequent cafés so as not to meet my former detainees tortured by me at (NSA). I have undergone a stage of severe depression. Several chronic ailments have attacked my body suddenly. I am now moving around my home in a wheelchair. I am suffering both bodily and psychologically whenever I urinate, defecate, take a bath, etc. I am now swallowing different types of capsules and medicaments, sedatives, painkillers, sleeping pills, etc. to the point of addiction. All this is in vain. This torture has been going on for ten years now. I wish to die; nightmares are haunting me. Memories of my torturing people haunt me day and night to trouble my conscience. I curse both my parents who forced me into the Police Academy. I have been a sadist because of them. I am now paying the price of my crimes in my old age at the end of my life. I curse all clergymen who taught me, wrongly, that my job is a mission for the sake of our nation and beloved country. They taught me that obeying the ruler is a sacred divine order! They taught me that this is better than upheavals that might corrupt life. Can you believe me now, Dr. Mansur, when I tell you that I want to repent; I hate myself and my black history. I wish I have never got my cursed job that turned me once into a ruthless sadist. I have a lot of money in banks and many buildings and assets. Such wealth never guarded me against illnesses and pang of conscience. Ghosts of victims haunt me until now. I have now read your articles archives on your website. I felt pained even the more. You are talking about a utopia; you can never imagine how morals and ethics have deteriorated among people now. But you belong to the group of people who have suffered oppression. You have been treated unjustly although you are innocent. How lucky! I envy you! You can never imagine the unbearable, insupportable suffering of an unjust man who has lost his youth, strength, power, and continues to pay the price in his old age by the end of his life. Please tell me, will God accept my repentance in my old age? How should I repent? Please forgive me for hating you in the past and answer my queries…)

 

 This is our reply:

1- We forgive you; you never harmed me before. Your former hatred of me has now vanished. I hope God will forgive you.

2- As for repentance during one's lifetime, it has several types:

2/1: An early true repentance is acceptable by God. In contrast, repentance at the moment of dying is never acceptable by God. "Repentance is available from God for those who commit evil out of ignorance, and then repent soon after. These-God will relent towards them. God is Knowing and Wise. But repentance is not available for those who commit evils, until when death approaches one of them, he says, "Now I repent," nor for those who die as disbelievers. These-We have prepared for them a painful torment." (4:17-18).

2/2: True repentance in middle age, around the age of forty, which entails charity, alms, so many good deeds, piety, and devoutness. God says in the Quran: "We have enjoined upon man kindness to his parents. His mother carried him with difficulty, and delivered him with difficulty. His bearing and weaning takes thirty months. Until, when he has attained his maturity, and has reached forty years, he says, "Lord, enable me to appreciate the blessings You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and to act with righteousness, pleasing You. And improve my children for me. I have sincerely repented to You, and I am of those who have surrendered."Those are they from whom We accept the best of their deeds, and We overlook their misdeeds, among the dwellers of Paradise-the promise of truth which they are promised." (46:15-16) and "Others have confessed their sins, having mixed good deeds with bad deeds. Perhaps God will redeem them. God is Forgiving and Merciful.Receive contributions from their wealth, to purify them and sanctify them with it; and pray for them. Your prayer is comfort for them. God is Hearing and Knowing. Do they not know that God accepts the repentance of His servants, and that He receives the contributions, and that God is the Acceptor of Repentance, the Merciful?" (9:102-104).

2/3: Repentance at old age: the fate of the repentant in the Afterlife is decided by God; either He will punish this repentant or accept his/her repentance: "Others are held in suspense, awaiting God's decree, as to whether He will punish them, or accept their repentance. God is Aware and Wise." (9:106).

3- True repentance entails correcting one's faith and a lot of good deeds and charity and pious acts of worship so as to remove past sins, as well as compensating the wronged people and giving them their due rights. God says in the Quran: "And We are forgiving towards those who repent, believe, act righteously, and then remain guided." (20:82). One can repent from major sins as well: "And those who do not implore besides God any other god, and do not kill the soul which God has made sacred - except in the pursuit of justice-and do not commit adultery. Whoever does that will face penalties. The punishment will be doubled for him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will dwell therein in humiliation forever.Except for those who repent, and believe, and do good deeds. These-God will replace their bad deeds with good deeds. God is ever forgiving and merciful. Whoever repents and acts righteously-has inclined towards God with repentance." (25:68-71). Accordingly, with true repentance, a former adulterer/fornicator and a formal killer is a repentant and no longer a sinner. All sins of the repentant will be turned into good deeds that replace the bad ones.

4- Hence, true repentance is linked to early timing of it, so that repentant people would have enough time to perform good deeds in life and return the rights due to injured and wronged people who have been treated unjustly by sinners who turned into repentant people.

5- Your real dilemma arises here in two worsened aspects:

5/1: God will punish you in this life in a way proportionate to your former sins; this is a general rule: "Whoever works evil will pay for it, and will not find for himself, besides God, any protector or savior." (4:123). This punishment in life is a chance to remember and repent: "We will make them taste the lesser torment, prior to the greater torment, so that they may return." (32:21).

5/2: The remainder of your lifetime, in your old age, will not be enough to give all your victims their due rights and compensate them for wrongs done to them. You even do not know all your victims by name and whether they live until now or not. Your lifetime might not be enough to do all good deeds to replace your sins. That is why your fate in the Afterlife will be decided by God alone. He knows all your sins and the degree and truthfulness of your repentance. God knows how you can (or cannot) give due compensations to your victims.

6- That is why we give you, if your repentance is true, these pieces of advice:

6/1: Your faith and heart should be free from deification, worship, and sanctification of things and mortals. You should worship God alone with faithfulness of creed. You should donate with huge sums for charity. Be patient and perform a lot of acts of worship and ask God's forgiveness every day.

6/2: As for people, you can give them their due by announcing and revelation, in writing, of your life story; be an advocator of abolishment of the crime of torture. Warn and preach your former colleagues; tell them about your suffering. Be an example for them to repent before they reach your stage of remorse and torment. Try to ask forgiveness from all your former victims whom you know or do not know. Try to expose your former workplace. Your will be persecuted by former colleagues and victims. You might face plots and conspiracies. You might get framed and imprisoned. You might even be tortured yourself. This will help expatiate your sins. This will bring you remedy for depression, psychological torment, and pricks of conscience. It will be enough that you will be the first tormentor and torture expert in a country of the Muhammadans to reveal his repentance in public. Seek to relieve your conscience in this way, ask God's forgiveness, and never lose hope of His mercy. God says in the Quran: "Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves: do not despair of God's mercy, for God forgives all sins. He is indeed the Forgiver, the Clement."" (39:53). God says nothing but the Truth.                      


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